After meeting in the Community Scholars Program, an initiative organized by the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access to promote diversity and ease the transition of incoming students, Joshua Marin-Mora (SFS ’21) and Isbel Deleon (COL ’21) discovered a shared interest in advocating for student needs.
Marin-Mora and Deleon joined the GUSA Executive ballot to continue this activism in the highest positions in student government. Issues the team hopes to highlight during their administration include decreasing the campus sexual assault rate, providing stronger student mental health resources, and improving accessibility and transportation, among other initiatives.
When deciding to run, the pair emphasized the urgency of addressing issues often overlooked by GUSA, according to Marin-Mora.
“There are really important issues that are affecting a lot of students that we haven’t seen a lot of impact on but we talk about. Costs continue to rise, the sexual assault rate hasn’t changed and students aren’t feeling supported in the classroom regarding mental health,” Marin-Mora said in an interview with The Hoya. “Georgetown’s most important resource is its students.”
Marin-Mora comes from Reno, Nev., where he was raised by immigrant parents from Costa Rica. At Georgetown University, he studies international politics and is involved with the D.C. Schools Project, CSP and the Georgetown Scholars Program, an organization that provides resources and support to first-generation and low-income students. Marin-Mora also participates with the Latin dance group Ritmo y Sabor. He has also served in the GUSA Senate since winning a seat in spring 2019.
Deleon hails from the Dominican Republic and studies government in the College. Deleon is active in Blue & Gray and The Corp as well as CSP and GSP. She has also worked as a student guard, in residential living, in the residential hall office and at the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service. Deleon additionally served as a representative for Reventón Latino and is a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.
Marin-Mora and Deleon will listen to all students’ concerns to best inform their administration’s initiatives, according to Deleon.
“We want to see change and we want to drive the impact for the students. We want them to be heard, we want them to feel safe, we want them to feel listened to because I know that is something I have heard going on time and time again,” Deleon said. “We just want to make sure that we try to help them as best as we can. And make sure we find the ways to tackle those important issues and contain and make them at the forefront, because the way this is going it is just not a sustainable relationship.”
The ticket will consider such student perspectives when considering how to better provide resources for first-generation college students on campus. Deleon has proposed a student-faculty mentorship program to help students better communicate to professors their needs as first-generation students.
“I know there have been times I get intimidated to go up to my professor and tell them I am confused on something, and my imposter syndrome can sometimes become very real,” Deleon said. “This mentorship program at Princeton allows first-generation students to build that type of connection with faculty members, and in turn allows faculty members to understand the hardships not only first-generation students go through, but also other students in general.”
In addition to providing more resources for first-generation students, the pair also highlighted policy goals like improving sexual assault policies on campus. One initiative regarding sexual assault on campus that the pair highlighted requires the executive board members of all student clubs on campus to undergo specific training in order to receive club funding from the university. Marin-Mora additionally suggested exploring ways clubs could designate a student sober intervener at social events.
“This isn’t to replace a critical resource that a survivor may need, but a student ought to be able to know that their student leaders can at least recognize situations on how to intervene but also at the same time that they can at least direct a student to resources on campus that they will need,” Marin-Mora said.
Current campus protocol ineffectively addresses student needs, according to Marin-Mora. The candidate recommended the university hire an administrator focused on university Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and general campus accessibility.
The ticket also discussed implementing an Open Textbook Network that would make certain materials and textbooks available for free use in academic courses. A similar program at American University saved 1,500 students $251,000 between 2015 and 2017, according to the AU website.
Though student trust and engagement with GUSA has been low, with last year’s executive election voting reaching its lowest turnout since 2007, Marin-Mora and Deleon hope to rebuild trust with the student body by actively engaging with student organizations.
Such student engagement will become an essential lever to push the administration to advance GUSA and the student body’s agenda during Marin-Mora and Deleon’s tenure as executives, Marin-Mora said.
“That is just a small step. But it is directly engaging the students because once that happens, I think that it really does show the administration that GUSA isn’t just as disconnected as it seems, and also importantly, I think it shows students that you don’t have to per se go to GUSA. You can reasonably expect GUSA is coming to you to gather your input,” Marin-Mora said. “We’re that bridge. And we really need to be that bridge.”
Hoya Staff Writer Annalise Myre contributed reporting.